Valishnu rising, p.1
Valishnu Rising, page 1part #6 of Symbiont Wars Saga Series
Copyright © 2019 by Chogan Swan. All Rights Reserved.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
WARNING: EXPLICIT CONTENT
Visit my website at www.ChoganSwan.com
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: March 2019
I dedicate this story to you, reader. I may not know exactly who you are, but without knowing you are out there thinking, considering and—I hope—enjoying your time with my characters and thoughts, none of this would be worthwhile.
I hope this story helps you on your way, fans the fire in your soul and brightens your life.
A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices. – George Orwell
CHAPTER 1 – BENT
HumanaH's eyes drifted along the horizon as she let the motorcycle slow and drift to a halt along the gritty asphalt Clouds scudded across the moon, sending shadows racing over the desert. Near the ground, the wind was softer, though the gusts still had the strength to lift stinging sand as high as her bare thighs.
The sensation did not bother her. Compared to what the impacts had been like at 200 kilometers per hour a few moments ago, it was barely a tickle. Her body armor would have protected her skin, but she'd left it behind, preferring to have more freedom of movement.
These days there were no police patrolling the land to object to her lack of clothing or—more likely—to her tail.
She guided the motorcycle off the road and into the lee of a stand of trees then through a narrow ravine with an overhanging rock ledge. With a snap, she deployed the kickstand into the rocky ground and let the auto-shutdown kill the engine.
The roar of the pipes fell silent.
In the sudden quiet, the engine and pipes of the custom-armored enduro Intruder ticked a soft retardando as they cooled. She dismounted and whipped her tail along her legs to brush away the sticking sand.
Since she’d lost her old self and become HumanaH, physical discomfort—even pain—had become a welcome distraction from her mental torture. At times, it felt as though her mind had never left the cave where DuGwaedH had stolen years of her memories to implant his own.
Even now, after building walls around those dark, foreign intrusions, the walls themselves served as a reminder of what she had lost. And the walls didn’t always hold the dark away.
So now, she found herself taking careless chances. She couldn't let go of the hope of freedom from the horror behind the walls, and death might bring that freedom. Duty was all that kept her tied to life.
… in spite of the pain … and the dreams.
ShwydH would have chided her for leaving her body armor; he often objected to the chances she took with her life. But then, his own life was linked to hers through the antidote she gave him daily.
He had motive.
Her own motives were tenuous.
Is that why you are doing this? You think to slip the leash of Duty?
Again, she wondered what had compelled her to offer to provide ShwydH the daily antidote for the captivating poison. Tiana had not asked it of her. Perhaps it was only the simple instinct that made a drowning sailor grasp a lifeline.
Keeping ShwydH alive grounded her here when mostly she wanted to slip through the veil and into the dark.
The 4-day supply of antidote she had left behind for him would no doubt trouble him—now that she was beyond his slight influence on her behavior.
He didn't even know where she had gone.
Settling the pack between her shoulder blades, HumanaH walked away from the bike and into the wilderness. The crèche was only twenty kilometers from here, and she wouldn't risk the sound of the bike leading anyone near it—or masking her own awareness of her surroundings as she approached. After all, it would be more than her own life she was risking.
She triangulated her position and vector into the wilderness from the nearby peaks of the Guadalupe Mountains then slid through a boulder field, moving through the shadows and sporadic moonlight. After a few minutes of walking, she stretched her legs into a stride that would take her to her destination in an easy forty minutes.
Running was good. Perhaps she would push the pace to increase the soothing pain of physical exertion. She analyzed the smells coming to her and detected nothing out of place, so she ran …
Her senses filled up as she moved, absorbing input from: her body's exertion; the starry sky; the calls of coyotes and the constant navigation of obstacles … all the cacti, boulders, arroyos and poisonous creatures best left undisturbed. For a time, her world was too full of sensation for emotional pain to intrude, and she imagined old friends running beside her—their four legs to her two—until her mind turned back to her self-appointed mission.
Am I doing the right thing?
In her condition, how could she know? One human storybook she had read in 1938 had used a word to describe what she was …
But so was ShwydH
Two wrongs didn't make a right, but two bent boards could be fastened together to make a straight beam.
Did that analogy hold? It was hard to tell. She knew her own judgment was suspect, but somehow she couldn't stop herself from reaching out for …
Redemption, whispered the voice inside—the tyrannical voice of hope.
In a short half-hour she was near the crèche entrance. She'd circled behind it first, making sure she could smell any threats, no matter what direction the wind came from.
She was the only sentient for kilometers.
After pausing to inspect the entrance from a distance and finding it undisturbed, she leapt across the ten-meter patch of sand to land at the hidden entrance.
Her fingers found the camouflaged touch-pad and tapped in the combination. Then, with a grunt of exertion, she pulled the 1,000-kilogram boulder away from the entrance. Another keypad allowed her through the armored steel door into the crèche.
This is it.
Tiana now had the locations and codes for most of the other chambers in the crèche system HumanaH had built over the last 125 years, but this was one HumanaH had kept to herself. The reason for that had remained unclear to her over the last three years. But then an idea had taken root in her.
And now she was here.
… on the edge of a precipice.
HumanaH paused before the chrysalis. It was ripe, ready to come forth, only a month away from auto-awakening.
The latest mission Tiana had assigned to ShwydH and HumanaH would take them away to the South Atlantic for months, perhaps years. Now was her only chance.
This morning when HumanaH had awakened—still rattling from her dream of the narrow, water-filled cave in Maryland and electric shocks coursing through the water into her body—her mind was clear on what she should do.
HumanaH shuddered—considering the investment tied up in this still empty branch and the possible consequences if the gamble failed. But then, she straightened her shoulders and strode to the crystal-loading chambe
The chamber opened when she stroked her hand over its covering, and she removed the first crystal from her bagua and used it to replace the one in the chamber.
When it was out, she turned the old crystal in her hand. Its purple depths were shadowed like deep water. She'd placed it in the chamber in 1933 when she and Edward had been running from the niiaH’s minions across a country in the grip of the Great Depression. The crystal still contained all her life's memories up until that time.
Now the so-called Great Depression seemed like a vacation.
She tucked away the old crystal and spliced the new one into the matrix. Next, she teased out a new thread from the chamber and connected that to the matrix as well. She removed a second crystal from her bagua—this one contained much more— and more recent—recorded memory.
She set the chamber to reload the crystal after the first had released its engrams into the brain's synapses. Then she set the pod to begin the wake-up cycle after the memories transmitted.
From her middle finger, she fed a single filament into the circuit to run a test, to make certain the connections were good. When both pods returned a positive feedback loop, she closed the chamber.
Moving to the chest against the wall next to the wardrobe, HumanaH opened the lid, removed an envelope and replaced it with another. She added more contents from her pack then closed the chest.
On her way to the shower stall, she took a sharp-tipped permanent marker from a pocket in the pack. She wrote on the door in large nii script and followed the message with the current human date and time. She signed it and left the marker on the ledge of the wardrobe door, but immediately changed her mind and first took it back to the shower to write a postscript.
After a final lingering look at the chrysalis, she left the crèche, locked the door and shoved the boulder back in place.
First erasing the scars of the boulder's tracks through the sand, she then turned and leapt to the nearby rocks. She turned to check. The sand around the opening showed no sign of her passage.
For two full minutes, she paused to listen and let the smells of the surrounding environment drift to her. The sun was not yet up; the desert was cool and quiet. She would take another circuit around the crèche before returning to the bike. Amelie and Darmien would enjoy the chance to stretch their legs.
At least she still had her early memories of them. Seven centuries of their companionship still helped her hang on to a wisp of sanity.
Sometimes they even spoke to her.
CHAPTER 2 – SPLICED
The event stream poured into a mind as yet unconscious: birth, growth, years passing in linear fashion, time filling a mind with experiences and decisions that would shap an outline for character and personality.
An outside observer might reflect on the preponderance of darkness, neglect and cruelty of the events in the stream. But to what else could the mind compare it?
If it were already awake and able to compare.
Things would be as they were … expected.
The mind continued filling, but still it was unaware. In the crèche, minds did not always awaken as they filled then the past went unnoticed until the body received the enzymes that ended the torpor of long hibernation.
Then, light or dark, it would bloom….
∆ ∆ ∆
ShwydH woke to darkness.
Somewhere skin tickled as something … some things … peeled away like spots of slowly detaching tape that tugged upon disengaging. The sensation was startling. He had no notion of what was causing it; just that it was a skin-like sensation. The start it gave him didn't translate to movement from his body—so far as he could tell.
He felt disconnected, as though he were dreaming … no, not dreaming … floating in warm water.
He tried to move, to open his eyes, but nothing changed.
Am I blind? Paralyzed?
Now that he thought about vision, he noticed that a sensation—perhaps a promise of light—shimmered somewhere like faint illumination on the outside of closed eyes. But he couldn’t find a switch to open them.
Where am I?
He considered the last thing he could remember. It had been time for his daily dose of antidote to the abiding poison. He’d come to HumanaH, tilting back his head to allow her easy access to his neck. His libido had stirred, as always, at the smell of her … like tamarind, bergamot and cinnamon if he were to compare it to earthly scents.
Her breath brushed his throat, like the promise of a kiss—then, unexpectedly, her arms wrapped around his body, as though to keep him from falling. the soft popping sensation of her teeth over his vein followed.
Then … nothing.
What else can I feel?
He tried to find more sensations for what seemed a long time with no results. He couldn’t even stir up strong emotions.
Am I dead.
He hoped not. It would be a boring way to spend the afterlife. But perhaps there was a hell—as some humans thought. If this continued, it had possibilities for hellishness, but it wasn't as though he didn't deserve a hell where he was absolutely powerless. After all, on the scales of justice—even though he'd changed his allegiance away from the galaxy-eating niiaH to the philosophically ethical nii—he wouldn't expect three years of that to outweigh three centuries of constant murder. No, not when his only other option to changing sides was dying from poison.
When he’d been captured, Tiana had given him a non-eradicable substance that required a daily antidote. One that only she, or one of her branch-sisters, could provide.
Before that, he had survived the brutal niiaH society for three hundred years by learning a strategic ruthlessness that planned for contingencies on a longer timeline than those who surrounded him. But when he'd been shipwrecked on Earth at the beginning of the 19th century—at odds with his superior officer, DugwaedH—ShwydH had found himself running out of options.
Stranded on a primitive world without access to the body-jumping technology available in the niiaH empire, ShwydH was sure to die in another six centuries unless he could get back to the empire. But he was almost sure the nii had managed to eradicate the NiiaH Empire, and DugwaedH would kill him long before he could possibly get back to be certain.
So ShwydH had compromised his own genetic material—irreversibly throwing away half of his remaining life expectancy. By keeping DugwaedH from using the DNA to revive the body-jumping technology on Earth, he'd made certain DuGwaedH would die here as well.
Now DuGwaedH was dead and burned to ash, and ShwydH's ruined DNA might have been the deciding factor in Tiana's decision to allow him to live.
He might be the last of his race alive….
If I AM alive.
The nothingness seemed to last forever. But then came dreams. First, he dreamed a growing awareness in a warm fluid environment like his own memories of the womb, but different this time … more secure, peaceful. Then pressure. Then light. Eyes open to see, not his own mother and the stark walls of his mother's bedroom and her hosts of slaves, but another female somewhere else.
His conscious thoughts faded, but the images … sensations … memories continued longer and more lucidly than any dream he'd ever had.
When he woke again, the memories of a childhood not his own filled his mind, and an open-eyed view of a polished stone chamber with soft light filtering down from above filled his senses.
In the memories, the child knew her name to be Riniana Tiana.
Which of the Tiana branches had done this to him?
Am I ShwydH or Tiana?
The memories of ShwydH came first, ergo, he was ShwydH, remembering Riniana Tiana's childhood. Logic dictated it must be so, like the law of geologic precedence. Without that anchor, he would have been swept away, ensorcelled by the life of a child loved and valued—not to mention one who had a will as vast and strong as a battleship's armored hull.
That meant the awarene
He noted that his view of the stone ceiling scanned in response to his curiosity about the surroundings. Relief followed the realization that he could look around. He tried to move and found that was now possible, so he felt for the controls of his body.
Something was different.
ShwydH sat up and looked down.
This was not his body.
by Chogan Swan / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Historical Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes